North American Ecosystems and tools for their restoration
Biome or ecosystem types
1. Tropical rain forests
2. Tropical seasonal forests
3. Temperate rain forests
4. Temperate deciduous forests
5. Temperate evergreen forests
6. Taiga (subarctic-subalpine needle leaved forests)
8. Tropical broadleaf woodlands
10. Temperate woodlands
11. Temperate shrublands
13. Temperate grasslands
14. Alpine shrublands
15. Alpine grasslands
17. Warm semidesert scrub
18. Cool semideserts
19. Arctic-alpine semideserts
20. True deserts (primarily sub-tropical)
21. Arctic-alpine deserts
22. Cool temperate bogs
23. Tropical freshwater swamp forests
24. Temperate freshwater swamp forests
25. Mangrove swamps (tropical)
26. Salt marshes of temperate coasts
27. Freshwater lentic communities (lakes and ponds)
28. Freshwater lotic communities (streams)
Littoral communities (where land meets the sea)
29. Marine rocky shores
30. Marine sandy beaches
31. Marine mud flats
32. Coral reefs
33. Marine surface pelagic communities (light)
34. Marine deep pelagic communities (lacking light)
35. Continental shelf benthos
36. Deep ocean benthos
North American Ecosystem Types
Bogs and fens
Riparian forest, woodlands
Wet prairie, grassland
Kόchler map of potential natural vegetation of North America
Baileys eco-regions of the United States
in Different Ecosystems
What is restoration?
Installing vegetation, or encouraging it
Depending on vegetation to accumulate the necessities of a functional ecosystem (organic matter, water, nutrients, soil)
Renewing natural processes that occur in functioning ecosystems.
Providing ecosystem functions that have been curtailed (hydrology, water quality, habitat)
Grasslands and Prairies
Water supply only seasonally adequate
Modification of fire regimes
Encroachment by woody species
Hardy, adapted natives; many of them grasses
Native graminoids fire adapted, invasive woody species not.
Some refugia exist
Seeding works in these environments.
Oak Woodlands and Savannas
Encroachment by conifers
Juniper advance in southwest and midwest
Encroachment by shrubby understory species in midwest
Modification of fire regimes
Very stress-tolerant dominants
Landscape structure creates fire-safe islands
Rocky landscapes create refugia
Good survival of seedlings
Adequate moisture and light make habitat invasion-prone
Openness of system makes it invasion-prone
Nasty suite of invasives: reed canarygrass, knotweeds, Phragmites.
Seeding is not generally effective as the primary mode of installing plant materials.
Plantings installed during the wet season do not need additional water
Abundant sunlight in many systems
Terrestrial invasives excluded
Live stakes work
Salt-affected system; fewer adapted species
Salt marshes are patchy systems with some areas that are very restrictive to plant growth.
High marsh can become hypersaline
Tides: access to marsh is time-limited.
Native species are well-adapted to the unique stresses in this environment.
Salt-affected systems have limited set of invasives
Tides moderate salinity and provide water.
Dominant species are clonal, perennial graminoids that grow and spread rapidly.
Brackish areas may have very fast growth
Populations of marine plants tend to appear and disappear.
Water clarity is critical; sediment and nutrients can decrease sunlight penetration.
Installation often requires diving.
Algal culturing requires technical competence.
Grazers and epiphytes inhibit growth
Minus tides can create extreme stress
Eelgrass is easy to salvage and transplant.
Minus tides in summer allow transplanting without diving.
Environmental conditions tend to be very stable.
Growth is fast; algal growth is very fast
Short growing season, cold, wind, little sun
Stressful conditions (flooded sites, xeric sites)
Non-Arctic species will not persist
Growth is very slow, ecosystem recovery slow
Melting of ice-rich soils precludes any restoration
Surface modification may result in melting of soils
Well-adapted native species
Native graminoids will spread
Patchy environments have some oases.
Some wet sites may be more amendable to restoration
Money available from oil company settlements
Cold, wind, scouring by windborne ice and sand particles
Big diurnal temperature swings, freeze-thaw cycles and soil creep
Few adapted species
Slow ecosystem rebound from disturbance
Genetic fidelity important
Growing season conditions may allow more production than Arctic
Alpine and subalpine plants can be grown in greenhouses at lower elevation
Lack of moisture
Annual moisture not predictable in warm deserts
Alien grasses introduced for grazing
Increased fire frequency
Annual moisture predictable in cool deserts
Natives well-adapted to low moisture, and some to high salinity
Just add water
Very fragmented; limited seedbank
Some thornscrub species grow slowly
Planting must occur at end of wet season; this leaves only a small window of time to plant.
Acreage large; land valuable for other purposes
Over 150 woody species and 100 grasses in S. Texas; plant material hard to get.
Some species grow fast
Some species may be seeded
Most are woody and very stress-tolerant
System is shrubby and does not normally burn.
Since much restoration is re-converting farmland, agricultural techniques may be used
Valuable wildlife land
Tropical Moist Forest
Continued conversion of forest to sunny pasture
Forest seeds large, with short dispersal potential
Aggressive introduced grasses
Fragmentation resulting in less regional moisture and more fire
Harsh sunny conditions for shade adapted seedlings
Fast-growing trees, some wind-borne seeds
Tropical Dry Forest
Lack of shade
Introduction of fire into non-fire-adapted systems
Introduced invasives (in Hawaii, Pennisetum setaceum, candelabra grass)
Well-adapted native species
Isolated areas protected from fire
Well-established natives at higher elevations
Long growing season, seasonal rain.
Old Growth Forest
Commercial value of plantation forests
Historical fire management
Heavy understory growth
Requires a long view
Requires medium-sized to large parcels
Requires little other than selective harvest
Some harvested materials can be extracted to finance the restoration
Some old growth survives because it is in inaccessible areas.
Areas around old growth can be managed to become old growth
Requires a coordinated effort, including watershed, riparian and instream scales.
Permitting is required
Heavy equipment and transport of materials required for instream work
High-energy systems may disturb restored sites.
Work at watershed or riparian scale may result in restoration at lower scales because of modified sediment and water flows.
Riparian restoration is done in a system in which establishment and growth is facilitated
Lots of salmon recovery funding available
Freshwater Tidal Systems
Less of this system remains than most others
River systems now dammed and diked; no more floods like historical ones.
Heavily logged and converted to agriculture
Diking, tide-gates, culverts, roads, drains
Some of system remains in family farms, wildlife areas, outside of dikes
Legacy wood exists in some areas now used as pasture.
Land conservancies have purchased some better sites
Salmon recovery money has enabled purchase and protection
Fragmentation may make sites less profitable for logging.